Not too long ago, I took another glassblowing workshop at the studio. I had not taken a gather, since the previous year, when I took the in-depth class, and I guessed I would be wobbly at best. I was surprised at how much my body remembered what to do. I have to admit, though, that having a more advanced partner helped, too. I was especially happy to finally be able to nail taking a larger gather. I spent the entire in-depth class making shot-glasses; I just could not grasp the quick rotations and scooping movement required to keep the glass on the pipe. This time, however, I could and actually managed to make a couple of decent cups.
When I started the studio in 2011, one of the main objectives and motivations was to provide a glassblowing programme for youths. Modelled directly after two famous American programmes – Hilltop Artists in Tacoma and Glassroots in New Jersey respectively – Kids Blow Glas was launched in the summer of 2012, six months after we went hot. Glassblowing requires a lot of communication between you and the others you are working with, and trusting that they will listen and help you make your piece in glass. These youth programmes aim to help kids open up and connect with each other, and if you have ever watched a workshop, you will notice right away how quickly the kids transform, and become more confident.
So that´s the thing about glassblowing... without that communication, you will get nowhere.
As an adult, we – or at least I – have become conditioned to “keep quiet and sort it out later”. But standing in front of the furnace door, which is open just a little too wide, and 1160 C. bellowing and burning your arms, it is nearly impossible to take a proper gather. Turn, turn, turn and then scoop. No. I grit my teeth and pull the pipe right out of there, as fast as possible; and only after a moment, when being to feel some sense of my skin, my body, my brain again, do I realize that the glass slid off the end of the pipe, and I am, in fact, destined to make shot-glasses.
Or I can say something.
Option 1) Yo! The door is open obviously far too wide!
Option 2) Didn´t you pay attention to how I opened the door for you??
And finally, option 3 settles in and is said out loud: Hey next time, keep the door open only about 10cm. I´ll tell you when to stop.
I guess for me, communication is the most challenging part of learning to blow glass. I never realized how often I ignore particular experiences, for the sake of keeping the status quo, for the sake of not wanting to offend someone.